Sunday, June 29, 2014

Credit Card Cross Border Transaction Fees

Recently I bought an air ticket through, and also a service from  The prices were quoted in Singapore dollars, and everything seemed to me that the transaction is done within Singapore shore.  However, when I checked my credit card bills, I noticed I had been charged more than the stated amount.  Feeling uneasy, I called up the credit card company.  Their explanation is that the merchants are located overseas, so a 'cross border transaction fee' had been incurred.  The rate is 0.8% of the transacted amount.  I am fine with the fee if I had been informed of it and I can tell whether the merchant is a Singapore one or an overseas merchant, but in this case, I bought a service in Singapore, through a .sg website, but in fact the transaction is considered 'cross border'.

A search on the internet shows that almost all the banks in Singapore have this charge, with the exception of OCBC, at the moment.  The worst seems to SCB, a foreign bank, and it happens to be the one I am using.

Now, the only safe way is to support our local business.  Book your air tickets, hotels, etc, everything from a local Singapore company, not with those overseas brands, not even if they have a .sg suffix in their website.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ramen Play Novena

In one of my old posts (Ramen Play), I mentioned the rice, or don, from Ramen Play is not bad, and next time I should try their ramen.  There is a will, there will a way.  I got the chance to try their ramen last Wednesday at Novena.

I ordered the ramen with pig's chin meat (3 pieces).  I specifically pointed out how many pieces of meat is included.  If you would like to have more, there is a choice for 5 pieces, at a slightly higher price.

My ramen came with a pretty good presentation.  The onsen egg is just too tempting.  I started with the pig's chin meat.  It is supposed to be the best part of the pig.  As expected, the chin meat is good.  It is a bit salty, but it is much better than all the pig's chin meat I had tried before, in terms of saltiness.  Onsen egg is good too.  I wonder how they make such onsen eggs, as there is no onsen in Singapore (except the one in Sembawang).  It is so tender and smooth.  I have weakness when it comes to this kind of egg.

The ramen itself is not bad too.  It is a bit like Cantonese wanton noodle, it has quite a bit of strength.

Last but not least, the soup.  The soup, as I expected, has been customized for Singapore taste.  It is a lot less salty.  You can tell it has been somehow diluted, to make it less salty.  Well, I would say if they can keep the original soup but less salty, that would be much better.  Another question I have is I don't know whether they mass produce the soup from a central kitchen like The Soup Spoon.  I hope not, as that is too industrialized, and lacks personality of individual shops.

Overall, I would say it is not too bad for that kind of price.  Even in Johor, you may not get this kind of food for the same price.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Carousel@Royal Plaza at Scotts Lunch Buffet

A lot of online food reviews rated Carousel@Royal Plaza at Scotts at the top hotel buffet in Singapore, so I made a reservation 3 weeks ago, for lunch.

The restaurant is conveniently located on the ground floor of the hotel, on the left side of you when you enter the hotel.  The hotel lobby is nicely decorated, giving you some kind of Italian renaissance feel.

We arrived at 11.55am, 5 minutes before the restaurant opens, so I just took a peek of the food that we would have.  There was a small queue at the entrance too, although they all had made a reservation.  Waiters will bring the guests in personally to their tables.  If it is your first time, they would also give you a briefing about all the food available and their locations.

First of all, let's walk around and take a look what are available first.

Seafood section is colorful and definitely appetizing.  There are quite a lot of choices, as you can see, but then unfortunately for oyster lovers, there is no oyster.  Oyster I heard is only for dinner.  The quality of the seafood is quite ok, although not of the top quality type.

Japanese section has different types of sashimi and sushi for you to choose.  Their salmon sashimi is not bad, tuna sashimi is ok, but then tuna is never my personal preference in the first place.

You have the salad section, which provides lots of greens and some pickles as well as meat.

They also have the hot food sections for western, Chinese, and Indian food.

Last but not least, the dessert section.  Ice water is free of charge, and the service staff will promptly re-fill it for you once you drain your glass.  Coffee is self service.  Their coffee must be really good, as my friend drank 3 cups of coffee, and 1 cup of expressio.

Take a look at some of my loot.  I quite like their dessert, not disgustingly sweet, but just lovely sweet.

For the very first time in my life, I tried the chocolate fondue?  Well, probably that explains why I never find it attractive :)

At 2.10pm, we left the restaurant with satisfaction.  For patrons paying with UOB, Citibank or Amex credit cards, you can get a 10% discount.  At the price of S$55/pax, it only amounts to less than S$60/pax after GST and service charge, after the 10% discount.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow is a science fiction movie based on a Japanese novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

Before going for the movie, I had read up about it so my expectation was not too high, thinking it might most probably have some resemblance to similar movies such as Looper.  And that was proven for the first half an hour?  After that, things are more unexpected.

Sustaining the whole movie and have all the details organically linked up, Tom Cruise's acting skills are essential.  He is the soul and flesh of the movie, without him, I think the movie might be a lot lackluster.  For the very first time, I admire Tom Cruise's acting skills, they are worth my praise.

The movie has an interesting start, exciting middle, but a cliche ending.  The ending is so expected, and so plain that it takes all the excitement out.

As a side talk, I notice aliens in our sci-fi movies always tend to have this octopus look, with lots of arms.  I wonder why do we human always imagine aliens to be that form?  Is it because some of us indeed have seen them before?  Interesting...

My Rating: 4/5

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Miam Miam

Miam Miam is a Malaysian restaurant specializing in some kind of fusion food, fusion of the west and the east, or South East Asia to be more precise.  But then according to the restaurant's website, it is a French cuisine with a Japanese twist.  Mmmh?

Anyway, their menu does have some French influence, with the flirting, curvy fonts used.

My friend's order was the minestrone soup with a slice of garlic bread.  The soup was quite watery, with some celery, and carrot.  The taste was average.

My order was Scouffle au Curry.  Didn't know what that was when I ordered, but just tried anything new anyway.  It came up looking pretty nice.  My friend insisted to know what was hidden underneath the beautiful, foamy egg crust, so here is a peek of the content.

It consists of Japanese short grain rice, onion, sausage, carrot, and broccoli.  The rice is not the dry and hard kind, but the moist and soft kind. It kind of reminds me of Italy's risotto.   I would say curry and onion combination is one of the best.  Onions' fragrance with curry's spiciness, plus the soft rice, it is actually not bad.

This restaurant is a bit expensive for the kind of food they offer.  Luckily at least I still enjoyed my food.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ramen Play

Ramen Play is located at Bishan MRT station, tucked in the corner, and on the 2nd floor, sharing the same entrance as Toast Box.  It is really out of place, and you would expect few people will even notice this restaurant.  In reality, many people do.  When we were there, there was a small queue there, although we were ushered in within 10 minutes.

When I browsed through their menu, then I realized they are not just another made-in-Singapore modern ramen restaurant, actually it has quite some history.  Now Singapore's Breadtalk has the foresight to bring them to Singapore.

History aside, what is most important is the food.  My order was Butariki Ishinabe.  Don't know what it is?  Simply put, it is pork + raw egg + rice in a hot stone bowl!  You have to thoroughly mix all the ingredients together, 'fry' them in the piping hot stone bowl.  I kind of like this very much.  The stone bowl is hot, but not too hot.  As you mix all the ingredients together, the rice can get really crispy and give you a bit of crust.  The rice itself tastes good.  Do you know why?  The rice they use is from Niigata, a renowned place in Japan for the best rice!  I must admit I am quite a fan of Japanese short-grain rice.  They are soft & fragrant.

Overall, I would say Ramen Play is not bad, for the price and the quality of food.  Next time, I probably will try their ramen.  Hopefully not too authentically salty :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Ship Restaurant @NEX

I had wanted to visit The Ship Restaurant at NEX for a long time, but never got the chance, until recently.  We went there on a Thursday night.  The restaurant is small, with quite limited number of tables.  We were sitting right next to the entrance, so in terms of ambiance, not exactly the best place.  

My order is the oxtail stew.  It comes with carrot, cauliflower, and meshed potatoes.  The meat is tender, coupled with the flavouring sauce, it was actually not too bad.  

For dessert, 6 of us share something called Bomb Alaska!  The crust is made of foamed egg white, whilst the filling consists of ice cream and fruits.  The wait time for this dessert is 20 minutes.  When they serve this dessert, they pour some alcohol onto the plate and light it up, giving you the ice & fire feel.  Taste-wise, it suits me, as it is not that sweet!  I was expecting the crust to be like super sweet like those I had in Italy, but no, it only has a slight taste of sweetness, more of the original flavor of the egg white.  

The service was prompt, but then they do make mistakes.  For example, that mushroom soup that I ordered didn't come.  Price wise it is a bit on the high side, comparing the same standard of food elsewhere. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Menya Musashi Kodou

A friend commented that Menya Musashi serves very good Japanese ramen, so we decided to go to the Ion Orchard branch for a try.  This branch is called Menya Musashi Kodou.  Kodou, means tiger's cave!

The interior design fits the name well.  Paintings of tigers are on the wall's fake screens.  It does give the ancient Japanese look of it.  

Overhead, paper lanterns were hung, dim and mysterious.  It feels like you have been transported to a back alley in Tokyo during the Edo period, when samurais roamed the streets.  

There are around 10 branches of this ramen brand in Singapore, but different branches have different styles of ramen.  For example, this one we visited in Ion Orchard and the one in Westgate share the same style.  Their ramen are of the H-shape, whilst the one at Raffles City, for example, has their ramen in O-shape.  For ramen, the essence is in the soup, as they always say.  In this branch, their branch is a triple boiled soup.  

My order is the original white char siew ramen with four pieces of white char siew.  Char siew is obviously another essential ingredient of a ramen.  Each piece of char siew is worth $1.00.  Japanese char siew is quite different from Chinese char siew.  The most visible difference is in the color.  Chinese char siew is distinctively red, while Japanese char siew is roasted brown in the outside, and white inside.

Here it is the H-shape ramen in close-up.  Do they look like two pieces of ramen sticking together?  The ramen is firm.  Every bite reminds you of the wheat growing in the vast field under the blue sky.  

Authentic Japanese ramen is always heavy when it comes to salt usage.  This one is of no exception.  The soup is thick and salty.  The heavy taste should satisfy those who like the authentic and original ramen, but it will be too strong (and less healthy) for people who are not so used to things too salty.